UFC Fight Night 98
UFC Fight Night 98 poster

After a three week break, $4bn MMA is back with UFC Fight Night 98 and in the spirit of Harry Kakavas (Google him, seriously) here’s our big weekend betting tips.

Live from Mexico City, UFC Fight Night 98 brings us a card packed with decent bouts that will serve as a welcoming appetiser before the media circus rolls into New York next week for UFC 205. Including two highly-anticipated debuts and a main event with title picture implications in the Lightweight division, there is plenty of reasons to watch this week.

Tony Ferguson (22-3-0) 6/5 vs. Rafael Dos Anjos (25-8-0) 7/10 – Lightweight

On first glance, I agreed with Dos Anjos coming into this as main event as the short priced favourite as with a more technical approach to his striking and a sharper ground game, he seems to have the fundamentals to take care of Ferguson.

However when factoring in the all-important intangibles that always factor into UFC fights, I have now swayed towards the underdog Ferguson. RDA struggled when losing his title to Eddie Alvarez as he was forced onto his heels and had to fend off a suffocating pressure game. The end came when Alvarez exposed RDA’s chin which up until then had been considered a strong point of his game and I feel Ferguson will take the same path on his way to victory.

“El Cucay” is unpredictable enough to put RDA into danger in the opening rounds and on the evidence of their previous fights, Ferguson can take whatever RDA throws in return and keep marching forward whereas the Brazilian will now have to take a more cautious approach. If this fight goes into deep waters, then Ferguson will find it very hard to keep up the pace over five rounds at altitude in Mexico City however I go big or go home and pick him to finish the fight before it gets that far.

Tip: Tony Ferguson by KO/TKO, Submission or Technical Decision at 17/10

Claudio Puelles (7-1-0) 20/23 vs. Martin Bravo (10-0-0) 20/21 – TUF Latin America Finale

With not much information or footage available on these guys outside of the Spanish language TUF season they’re currently part of, I had to dig a little deeper to find out where to lean with this match up. Puelles seems to have the more technical style from the footage I’ve seen although his seven wins have all came over guys at a very low level and at the start of their careers.

Bravo, on the other hand, is a scrappy fighter who looks to take fights to the ground and grind out a win by dominating from the top with spells of ground and pound. Before appearing on TUF Latin America, “El Toro” was appearing in Jungle Fight and took on a Brazilian with a decent record. He won that fight and it seems he has been fighting at a higher level overall throughout his career than Puelles.

A Mexican fighter in Mexico City in a TUF final is going to have the crowd fully behind him every minute of this fight. Both will have great cardio and this could very well go the distance where I expect Bravo to grind out a decision.

Tip: Martin Bravo by Decision at 21/10

Diego Sanchez (26-9-0) 11/5 vs. Marcin Held (22-4-0) 5/14 – Lightweight

My first controversial pick for UFC Fight Night 98 comes in this Lightweight bout where ex-Bellator fighter and BJJ prodigy Marcin Held faces off against tough UFC veteran Diego Sanchez.

With many people tipping Held for greatnesses, the bookmakers have gone along with the hype and priced him as a clear favourite in this fight however I feel Diego Sanchez has the kind of game to spoil the UFC debut of the 24-year-old.

Although Marcin Held has improved his striking greatly in his most recent fights, he still feels one dimensional in terms of always looking for a takedown and an early submission finish and I see no evidence that would point to him straying from that plan here. That’s where I see his problems beginning with “Nightmare”

Sanchez is widely considered to be on a downward spiral and the down slop of his career however people forget just how strong the wrestling and grappling game of the 34-year-old was at the start of his career before he realised how much he enjoyed a stand up war. I don’t think he has lost that edge and I feel he is more than capable of defending the takedown attempts and using his physicality over Held to trouble him the way others such as Will Brooks did in Bellator.

This is the first time in around ten fights where Sanchez has been able to boast of a striking advantage over his opponent and paired with the fact he has never lost by submission in his career, I feel he not only controls the fight but dominates as it moves into the later rounds and “The Polish Prodigy” struggles with his cardio as he has done in the past.

Tip: Diego Sanchez to win at 11/5

Ricardo Lamas (16-5-0) 10/11 vs. Charles Oliveira (21-6-0 1NC) 10/11 – Featherweight

After the cancellation of UFC Manilla, Ricardo Lamas campaigned for a new fight before Christmas and has been granted his wish in this quickly arranged fight against Brazilian Charles Oliveira.

Oliveira has all the potential to be a top name in the Featherweight division however his inconsistency and lack of heart have let him down when he has had a chance against the top names. He has shown a tendency to not like getting hit and will attempt to pull guard and work from the bottom if his opponent is landing decent clean shots in the stand up. This is likely to happen and fail miserably against hard hitter and fellow BJJ black belt Lamas.

“The Bully” had been training for the biggest fight of his career against MMA legend BJ Penn until Penn was forced to pull out of their scheduled bout three weeks ago with an injury. Lamas was quickly granted this fight as a replacement and I see him being in the greatest shape of his life heading into this match up after a long extended training camp. My only worry about Lamas is that although he possess major power in his hands, he can sometimes lack a killer instinct. This is the guy who had Diego Sanchez hopping around on one leg but still didn’t go in for the finish preferring to stick with his gameplan.

I see Lamas getting the victory at UFC Fight Night 98 however this comes with a big “buyer beware!” sticker attached as Oliveira can land a submission anywhere anytime during the fight and is not to be underestimated.

Tip: Lamas to win at 10/11

Beneil Dariush (13-2-0) 23/20 vs. Rashid Magomedov (19-1-0) 5/7 – Lightweight

This is a very evenly matched fight however stylistically these guys are miles apart. Magomedov has put on striking clinics in his previous appearances in the octagon, looking every bit the stereotypical point fighter in the process whereas Dariush strengths, as a BJJ black belt, lie in his ground game.

Magomedov will look to keep Dariush at distance with his technical striking approach to the fight and if he keep this on the feet, I can see the Russian doing enough to take the 11th decision win of his career. The doubts that creep in though relate to his long term absence due to injury with his last fight taking place in November last year so we don’t really know what fighter we are going to see return.

Dariush has improved his striking since working with Kings MMA however I would describe his skills as serviceable rather than anything special. His ground game though is in a different class to most and if he gets on top then it could be over quickly for Magomedov.

After reviewing previous fights of both, I noticed how well Magomedov can defend takedowns and although his defence fades towards the later rounds, I think he could very well do enough for a 29-28 on the scorecards and to make this risk worth our while, let’s look for a split decision.

Tip: Rashid Magomedov by Split or Majority Decision at 7/1

Alexa Grasso (8-0-0) 1/5 vs. Heather Jo Clark (7-5-0) 37/10 – Women’s Strawweight

Alexa Grasso makes her highly anticipated UFC debut against Heather Jo Clark and in my mind. This match is tailor made for a good performance from Grasso.

The 23-year-old’s strengths lie in her boxing abilities and she has four knockouts in her eight professional fights. Her striking game hasn’t been anywhere near matched in any of her fights so far and against Clark in front of her home fans, I can’t see that changing in this fight.

Clark is slow and hittable and although she was able to take the punishment over three rounds against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, I feel Grasso offers a bit more power over volume and should have enough to grab a TKO victory.

Although she has went to decision in three of her last four fights, I like the value on taking a chance on her finding the finish as there’s no way I’m interested in the “to win” price.

Tip: Alexa Grasso by KO/TKO at 4/1

Erik Perez (16-6-0) 1/2 vs. Felipe Arantes (18-7-1 2NC) 13/8 – Bantamweight

I would be tempted by the underdog in this situation however we are in Mexico City and this is Erik Perez we are talking about.

He wears the luchadore mask, comes out with the Mexican flag, matching mouthguard and is loved by the Mexican fans who took the roof off when he beat Taylor Lapilus at UFC Fight Night 78 in Monterrey.

Arantes has a tricky guard and could use his BJJ to work submissions even when on the bottom. He also carries a threat on the feet with his very capable muay thai game but if he is going to win, it will probably be by submission.

I’m passing on this fight simply because there is no value to a Perez victory and I’m not convinced that Arantes has the cardio to go three rounds at UFC Fight Night 98.

Tip: Pass

Erick Montano (7-4-0) 5/4 vs. Max Griffin (12-3-0) 2/3 – Welterweight

In this fight, Max Griffin on paper looks like the way to go. He possesses the superior striking skills and although defeated by Colby Covington in his debut, it was because Covington is a very skilful wrestler and Griffin could not hang with it. This is where Griffin has a problem.

Looking at Montano’s last fight against Randy Brown at UFC Fight Night 94, he likes to grapple and actually looked decent in that fight until Brown got the choke in the last round. I think Montano frustrates Griffin with a grinding style exactly as Covington did and is another underdog worth backing at UFC Fight Night 98.

Tip: Erick Montano by Decision or Technical Decision at 13/5

Henry Briones (16-5-1) 27/20 vs. Douglas Andrade (23-1-0 1NC) 20/33 – Bantamweight

When looking at the records of these two fighters, it seems like an easy pick however sometimes records do not tell the whole story.

Douglas Andrade has what I like to call a “Brazilian Record”. This refers to fighters who go around the Brazilian regionals fighting opponents with very little skills which allows them to also fight more frequently meaning they end up with very padded records. An extremely good striker with 18 KO’s in his 23 wins but has yet to knock out anyone in the UFC.

Henry Briones lost his last fight however that fight was to an up-and-coming Cody Garbrandt and it has to be said that Briones looked better against Garbrandt than anyone else has and also took him to his only decision of his career. Briones is tough and can take a shot so I can’t see the knockout happening.

I like Briones here and think he has all the tools in this match-up to comfortably defeat Andrade on the score cards at UFC Fight Night 98.

Tip: Henry Briones by Decision or Technical Decision at 12/5

Sam Alvey (28-8-0 1NC) 10/21 vs. Alex Nicholson (7-2-0) 7/4 – Middleweight

Admittedly I will be slightly biased here as Sam Alvey has been coming through for me big time lately and I’m going to keep the good times going by backing him again here.

Alvey is an incredible power puncher however sometimes he can be extremely frustrating to watch as he fights at a very slow, methodical pace and will wait for his shots rather than force them. His victory by standing guillotine over Eric Spicely showed he also had more than just stopping power in his arsenal.

Nicholson is reckless and will come out swinging for the fences looking for a KO over a durable Alvey and I think that will leave him open to “Smilin’ Sam’s” big counter punches.

Tip: Alvey to win in Round 2 at 17/4

Marco Polo Reyes (6-3-0) 4/7 vs. Jason Novelli (11-2-1) 29/20 – Lightweight

Polo Reyes is coming off of a “Fight of the Year” candidate win over Dong Hyun Kim and continues to get better with each performance. He’s a training partner of Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and is currently riding a three fight win streak.

Novelli is coming off of a loss to David Teymur and at 37-years-old is really not developing any further as a fighter although he did show promise on the regionals prior to arriving in UFC.

This fight seems set up for the Mexican fighter to further his win streak in front of his home fans.

Tip: Polo Reyes to win by KO/TKO at 31/20

Enrique Barzola (11-3-1) 1/5 vs. Chris Avila (5-3-0) 7/2 – Featherweight

This UFC Fight Night 98 fight requires no write up other than please do not place your money on Chris Avila. He lost to Artem Lobov. By decision. 30-27’s across the board.

Friend’s do not let their friends bet on men beaten by the terrible Lobov.

Tip: Do NOT touch with a bargepole

All odds are correct as of time of writing and are provided by